FSIS changing its policy regarding Humane Handling enforcement
Livestock transporters or haulers transport animals to slaughter establishments. Many of these individuals are not employed by the establishment and thus are not required to follow instructions from the establishment on the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter. Unlike owners of federal establishments, non-employees, such as livestock transporters, generally do not hold a grant of federal inspection and therefore are not subject to FSIS administrative enforcement actions. When non-employee transporters inhumanely handle livestock on the premises of an official establishment, FSIS takes action against the establishment
An official swine slaughter establishment petitioned FSIS. The petition stated that official establishments should not be held accountable when non-employees inhumanely handle livestock on the official establishment premises. FSIS decided to grant the petition. FSIS published a Federal Register Notice on October 7, 2016 stating the granting of the petition and how it plans to implement the change. The Federal Register Docket was published on October 26, 2016 stating that comments must be received by November 25,2016. FSIS intends to begin implementing the policy discussed in the Federal Register document on January 24, 2017, unless FSIS receives comments that demonstrate a need to revise this date. FSIS will publish a Federal Register document affirming the implementation date.
FSIS intends to initiate civil or criminal action, as appropriate, against individuals not employed by an official establishment, if these individuals handle livestock inhumanely in connection with slaughter when on the official premises.
FSIS requires official establishments to humanely handle livestock on the official premises, on vehicles that are on the official premises, and on vehicles in queue for slaughter establishments.
Unlike owners of federal establishments, non-employees, such as livestock transporters, generally do not hold a grant of federal inspection and therefore are not subject to FSIS administrative enforcement actions.
When FSIS IPP observe a non-employee inhumanely handling livestock in connection with slaughter, FSIS will instruct them to produce a written record of the event and forward the record to their District Office. The District Office will refer the record, when appropriate, to FSIS’s Office of Investigation, Enforcement and Audit to conduct follow-up investigations and enforcement action.
This Federal Register Notice does not replace existing enforcement policies. FSIS will continue to use its administrative authority to take action against the establishment when establishment employees are found responsible for inhumane handling of livestock.
FSIS personnel will take a regulatory control action when it is necessary to stop the inhumane treatment of livestock regardless of whether a non-employee or an establishment employee is responsible for the inhumane handling. If it is determined that it was solely a non-employee committing the inhumane livestock handling the regulatory control action will be lifted.
FSIS expects that establishment management will provide, upon request, certain records that are required to be maintained regarding non-employee livestock handlers. If establishment management does not provide the information upon request, FSIS may obtain a subpoena to gain access to the non-employee information required.
The Agency will announce an updated humane handling guidance materials in a separate Federal Register notice. FSIS will perform outreach to industry to educate slaughter establishments as well as animal transporters, haulers, and allied industries of this policy initiative.